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  39 Debates

The corona crisis is also shaking up international politics. Conflicting parties are suddenly confronting the same threat and long-established alliances are being called into question. Journalists discuss what radical changes could persist even after the pandemic.

The crisis law passed on the weekend by Poland's ruling PiS party also affects the elections in May: all citizens over 60 may now also vote by absentee ballot. Critics say that with this measure the PiS is aiming to secure its election victory, since the party is particularly popular with the elderly. The press also condemns the law - and calls on the opposition to take action.

The Hungarian parliament on Monday passed an emergency law allowing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to rule by decree in the fight against Covid-19. Since the government camp has the necessary two-thirds majority, the law's adoption came as no surprise. However, commentators across Europe are concerned that there is no time limit on these special powers.

Covid-19 is also confronting the US with a sad reality: there have now been more than 2,400 fatalities and over 140,000 confirmed cases. President Trump, who had talked of lifting containment measures such as social distancing before Easter, has now announced that they will be extended until April 30. But according to commentators the country is appallingly ill-equipped for such a crisis.

Crisis situations - whether they affect individuals or society as a whole - always serve as opportunities to re-examine the status quo and draw conclusions for the future. The current pandemic can serve to provide insights not just regarding existential issues but also the way we live our daily lives, commentators observe.

The leaders of the G20 states have agreed in a video conference to invest 4.5 trillion euros in the global economy and expand production of medical supplies. Appeals to show greater solidarity with the countries of the Southern Hemisphere, however, were left unaddressed. Commentators push for concrete action.

The curfews in many European countries are mainly aimed at slowing down the spread of the virus. Because if too many people fall ill at the same time, even an optimal system will collapse sooner or later. But the systems in many states are far from perfect, commentators note with some bitterness.

Not only US President Trump but also European politicians and scientists are already thinking out loud about easing the restrictions to contain Covid-19 and calling for corresponding strategies. The days after Easter are being mentioned as the time to start relaxing the measures. Commentators wonder whether such demands are not a little premature.

All over the world curfews and business closures are posing a challenge for society. Many people are showing solidarity with others in new ways: doing shopping for people they didn't know before and offering words of encouragement. At the same time there is growing distrust of those who - actually or allegedly - break the rules.

After a long wait, Vladimir Putin finally announced measures to curb Covid-19 in Russia in a televised address last Wednesday: the whole country will be given a week's holiday on full pay, subsidies will be allocated to the the socially weak and businesses, and the constitutional referendum scheduled for April 22 will be postponed. Is the pandemic now being taken seriously?

Only two months have passed since the first Sars-CoV-2 infection was discovered in Europe but the virus has already caused major economic damage and brought radical changes to daily life. Governments are discussing appropriate aid packages and Eurobonds. The market cannot regulate itself in times of crisis, some argue. Others warn against protectionism or voice hopes for the creation of a whole new system.

Despite a surge in the number of coronavirus cases in the US, President Trump has said he wants to ease the social distancing measures soon, arguing that a recession would kill more people than the Covid-19 pandemic. "We can't let the cure be worse than the problem," he said in an interview with TV channel Fox News. Is he right?

Sweden is has struck out on a path of its own in the fight against the pandemic: under the 'administrative model', the government is relying directly on the expertise of key authorities. And so far they have stressed the need for a moderate response. Borders and elementary schools will remain open, no curfews have been imposed, and only the seriously ill are being tested. But with the number of cases rising sharply, critical voices are growing.

The 27 EU states have postponed taking a decision on the introduction of Eurobonds as a joint instrument for tackling the economic consequences of the corona crisis. While Italy and Spain are urgently demanding "corona bonds", countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Austria oppose the idea. Commentators analyse the origins of the conflict and look for ways out of the stalemate.

The corona crisis is challenging certainties everywhere. What will our daily lives look like a few months from now? Will the world order collapse, or will the repercussions of the virus be manageable? Commentators also ask whether society will be different after the pandemic - and whether this is a desirable outcome.

Public life in Italy has been shut down for two weeks. In view of the Corona pandemic, disputes between the government and the opposition had initially died down. But when Prime Minister Conte recently decreed an almost complete shutdown of the economy, Lega chief Matteo Salvini in particular responded by calling for Parliament to be more involved in the decision making. Is he right?

The virus also seems to have brought the European project to a standstill: member states are closing their borders, restricting their citizens' freedoms and adopting largely national policies - in part also because the EU's powers regarding health issues are very limited. Commentators fear the populists could come out on top, but not all have lost hope.

Only a minority of European countries are still relying on recommendations and voluntary social distancing measures in the corona crisis. Most have implemented varying degrees of lockdown and in many cases declared a state of emergency. Commentators warn against the erosion of the rule of law.

People standing at windows and balconies and applauding medical staff has become a gesture of solidarity during the corona crisis. But it's not just hospital staff who are being seen in a new light. The restrictions of lockdown are prompting commentators to reflect on which professions are most important for society.

The Hungarian government presented a draft law on Friday that, if passed, would enable it to rule by decree for an unlimited period. Budapest would be able to extend the state of emergency declared on 11 March over the Covid-19 pandemic without parliament's approval. Currently the state of emergency is revised by parliament every 15 days. What motives are behind the initiative?

Plays, concerts, readings: cultural life has also been forced to take a break in order to slow the spread of the virus. But many artists are finding creative, mostly digital ways of making their art audible and visible. Commentators applaud their efforts.

In Italy, the European country worst hit by the corona crisis, the government has once again stepped up measures to contain the virus. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on the weekend that all businesses except those that guarantee essential goods and services must now close. The press wonders if this is the right approaach.

The fight against the coronavirus is imposing considerable constraints and burdens on everyone. Politicians and celebrities are calling for social cohesion and solidarity - but some people seem to feel these calls don't apply to them. The media debate who bears which responsibilities in this crisis.

So far not a single case of Covid-19 has been registered in the hotspots on the Aegean Islands. Nonetheless, stringent measures now also apply for the refugees living there. Now only a single family member is allowed to do the shopping. And health stations are to be set up to deal with cases of infection. NGOs, however, are calling for the camps to be evacuated - and commentators agree.

To combat the economic repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic the ECB has announced plans to spend another 750 billion euros on bond purchases. This comes after last week's announcement that it would invest 120 billion euros in bond-buying. The measure is aimed at lowering the interest rates at which states and companies can borrow money. Is this the right response to the crisis?

Many countries have declared a state of emergency and imposed curfews in a bid to combat the spread of the corona pandemic. In Italy, Spain, France, Belgium and Denmark, for example, citizens are only allowed to leave their homes for urgent reasons.

Isolated at home from one day to the next, millions of people in Europe are having to adapt to radically changed living conditions. And even where freedom of movement is not yet restricted, many people are voluntarily isolating themselves to slow the spread of coronavirus. Journalists encourage readers to make the best of the situation.

While the corona pandemic is rapidly spreading in Europe and the US, the Chinese leadership appears to have the virus under control in the country thanks to drastic measures. China's economy has suffered substantial losses but the country is now presenting itself as an adviser and even donating medical equipment to Europe. Commentators examine the long-term political ramifications.

European leaders agreed on Tuesday to close the EU's external borders so as to contain Covid-19. The entry ban will initially apply for 30 days. In addition, EU Council President Charles Michel assured European businesses that "whatever it takes" would be done to cushion the impact of the crisis. Commentators are unanimous that so far the EU hasn't cut a good figure in its efforts to fight the pandemic.

In a bid to combat the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, the ECB has announced new loans to banks to support the flow of credit into the economy, but has left the base interest rate unchanged. Brussels has announced a financial aid package of 7.5 billion euros, which is to be increased to 25 billion later on. Commentators have doubts about whether these measures will be adequate.

A number of measures have been taken by both states and private individuals around the world to combat SARS-CoV-2, including major restrictions on travel, production and transport. This has led to a significant reduction in negative environmental influences in many places. But commentators don't believe the measures will stop climate change in the long term.

Italy's government has expanded the lockdown of 15 provinces in the "red zone" in the north to the whole country in a bid to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. All public institutions are closed and all sport events have been cancelled. The death toll has climbed to more than 460. Commentators say the country's citizens also share responsibility for this drastic step.

The Covid-19 pandemic is putting a major strain on Europe's healthcare systems and economies: hospitals are having to turn away patients, schools and cultural institutions are being closed and entire business sectors are crippled, posing a challenge for the population as a whole. Commentators examine how the virus is changing how politicians, entrepreneurs and citizens think and act.

According to the WHO coronavirus has now spread to more than 87 countries and around 98,000 cases have been registered worldwide. Infection numbers are rising daily in Europe, where more than 150 people have died of the virus, most of them in Italy. Europe's press wonders how the epidemic will alter our societies and our future.

In view of the rapid spread of coronavirus in Italy, the government in Rome is meeting with representatives from neighbouring countries Slovenia, France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany to discuss what further measures should be taken. The number of infections now exceeds 220. Commentaries range from cool-headed reflection to borderline panic.

Coronavirus continues to spread, with the number of registered cases in Italy having risen to more than 320. Many observers fear the epidemic will also cause major economic damage due to production losses, disrupted supply chains and a decline in consumption. Others sense opportunities amid the dangers.

Beijing on Tuesday demanded an apology from Jyllands-Posten after the Danish newspaper published a satirical drawing featuring a Chinese flag with each of the stars depicted as coronaviruses. Stockholm had already summoned China's ambassador in mid-January for repeatedly trying to put pressure on public television broadcasters and newspapers. Danish and Swedish media agree that they must not give in to the Chinese on this issue.

Coronavirus, the first cases of which were discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, continues to spread across the globe. So far more than 42,000 cases of infection and 1,113 deaths have been registered. European media praise China for its exemplary commitment to fighting the disease despite widespread criticism and examine unexpected side effects.